The Women: Polly James Stidum


Polly James Stidum with grandchildren

“It takes a village” is a phrase that often comes to mind when thinking about personal development. Where would anyone be without his or her family or community? We need it apparently and I feel like in my case, it has taken just that to reach only my place of authenticity. Sometimes it even takes a lifetime of “raising,” supporting or nurturing to get there, just so that you can continue to do or be that person.

It begins with immediate family and then you realize that there were people before them, and so not only is it immediate family, but ancestry that also participates. So ultimately, it’s an ongoing flow. One can only select what seems to be influence, but then again, you can’t really be sure. On looking back though, there do seem to be roots whether they were really meant to be or not. Perhaps it doesn’t matter, just that they lived and in doing so taught, influenced and handed down.

One of my ancestors was Polly James Stidum. My paternal grandmother often told stories of her and finally one day when her sister visited (during college days) we sat and recorded their stories. It’s all I have and it’s limited. The rest I have to imagine from researching her  environment and history of the times. I’ll never really have the complete story.

The above shows her with my grandmother (the little girl at her knee) and her other grandchildren (my great uncle and aunt).

At any rate, my grandmother says that my great-great grandmother was a “very pioneering woman” in that she grew her own flax and wool, carded and spun them for weaving. She had a loom in her kitchen-living room from which she wove clothing for her family.

What intrigues me most is that she wove a coverlet and the colors she used are the same as the ones that I put in my own work.

I don’t know where her deep blues came from. It seems to me though, that when I look deeply into her threads, they are as deep and rich as any indigo.


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4 Responses to “The Women: Polly James Stidum”

  1. neki desu Says:

    it somehow works out that we are what they were.
    i’m almost sure the blue threads were indigo as it was much used in those days.

    addendum: from the photos of you i’ve seen you take to Polly a lot.

    • Susan Says:

      Interesting how that works, isn’t it? I’m seeing it in my kids…how they’ve inherited from their “lines.” Still, though…it is remarkable. I’ve been researching the presence of indigo in KY back then, so far, haven’t turned up anything, but I don’t know why not. It was late 1800’s after all.

      It has also been said that I do favor from my father’s side…and lately when I look at it her face, there do seem to be some resemblances!

  2. velma Says:

    those women who went before, they were something else. the coverlet is likely indigo.

    • Susan Says:

      Weren’t they though? So resilient and probably creative in ways we can’t imagine. Those threads do look indigo don’t they? I can’t imagine getting that deep with anything else – at least from what I’ve been reading so far. She lived in KY and don’t know how accessible indigo would have been, but by that time, perhaps…I’m looking for any information about what women worked with in that area in the mid to late 1800’s.

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